Political Herd: Democratic Columnist

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This weekend I made the brilliant decision to skip the Friday night Halloween scene and wake up at 3 a.m. Saturday to catch a bus to Washington, D.C. I was one of those crazy enough to attempt to restore sanity.
While the idea of restoring sanity has comedic roots, the rally was nothing to merely laugh at. Two hundred thousand people descended upon the National Mall that Saturday afternoon. They did not do so for a unifying political, social or philanthropic cause. They rallied under the simple belief that our disagreements are not as profound and unavoidable as we think or are told to believe.
As I stepped onto the escalators and descended into the depths of the Metro, two things struck me. First, despite the mass of people, the rally seemed to be going relatively smoothly. This fact would later play a role in Jon Stewart’s closing speech. Second, despite the belief that “The Daily Show” is primarily geared towards young adults, the rally-goers represented a variety of age groups. This trend only continued as I arrived at the Mall.
Underlying the excitement, satirical protest signs, musical performances and the occasional costumed crazy was the understanding that while we were mocking current state of affairs, we also all held a deep conviction that things have to change. While I didn’t have an excellent vantage point and could only faintly hear bits and pieces of the musical performances, upon returning home and watching the recording of the event, my appreciation of just being there was reaffirmed.
Then, Jon Stewart began to speak. In the most inspiring moment of the rally, he candidly discussed his intentions in planning the event. Lambasting the “24-hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator,” Stewart described media that has gone too far—a media that is so involved in escalating conflict and perceived disagreement that it creates a false storyline. This is the danger to sanity.
After the rally, pundits quickly jumped on Stewart, defending their line of work. The common theme among them was that these problems were nothing compared to the current economic situation and that most Americans do not pay attention to modern media.
But today’s media is inextricably linked to every single problem facing this nation. Pundits, news anchors and talk show hosts shape our thoughts. If you say you don’t pay attention to media, I bet your friends or family do. You cannot be immune to the ideas perpetuated through the media, but you can be sure to entertain these ideas with skepticism.
I will readily admit that before this rally, I was skeptical of compromise, bipartisanship and working across the aisle to get things done. To be honest, I still am. However, I have come to the realization that it’s quite alright to have profound ideological differences. The point is not to reduce these differences to Hitler/socialist/communist/Marxist/racist labeling absurdity. As Jon explained, “Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats or Republicans or liberals or conservatives. Most Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often it’s something they do not want to do, but they do it. Impossible things get done every day that are only made possible by the little, reasonable compromises.” And that’s just what the American political discourse is missing.

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